Duncan Osbourne at Gay City News lays out the not-really-so-gay-friendly background on Sarah Palin.
Palin became governor in 2006 after serving as a councilwoman and then mayor of a small Alaskan town. She made an unsuccessful run at becoming Alaska’s lieutenant governor in 2002. Palin has confronted a single piece of gay rights legislation in that time.
In 2005, Alaska’s highest court ruled, in a case brought in 1999 on behalf of nine couples, that the state could not deny benefits to the domestic partners of state government employees. The court ordered the state to implement that ruling in late 2006.
The ruling was seen by right wingers as conflicting with a 1998 amendment to the Alaska Constitution, passed by voters in a ballot referendum, that defined marriage as solely between one man and one woman. The Republican-dominated State Legislature passed a bill that barred the state’s administrative agency from implementing the ruling. Palin vetoed it.
“The Department of Law advised me that this bill… is unconstitutional given the recent court order… mandating same-sex benefits,” Palin said in a statement. “With that in mind, signing this bill would be in direct violation of my oath of office.”
The statement added, “The governor’s veto does not signal any change or modification to her disagreement with the action and order by the Alaska Supreme Court. It is the governor’s intention to work with the Legislature and to give the people of Alaska an opportunity to express their wishes and intentions whether these benefits should continue.”
Eight days before signing the veto, Palin signed another bill that called for a “statewide advisory vote” regarding the ruling from Alaska’s high court, saying in a statement, “We may disagree with the rationale behind the ruling, but our responsibility is to proceed forward with the law and follow the Constitution… I disagree with the recent court decision because I feel as though Alaskans spoke on this issue with its overwhelming support for a Constitutional Amendment in 1998 which defined marriage as between a man and woman. But the Supreme Court has spoken and the state will abide.”
The ACLU’s Mittman framed the way the bill calling for the statewide advisory played out in the ongoing controversy about the high court’s order. “Then what happened was the anti-gay forces came up with what they called an advisory vote,” he said. “It was essentially a way for anti-LGBT people to try and rally public opinion to try and move their agenda forward.”
In 2007, the state spent an estimated $1 million to hold that vote and Alaskans expressed their opposition to the court ruling by a narrow margin. The vote did not have the effect of making law.
The McCain campaign has very effectively spun the veto to show Palin, 44, as sympathetic toward the gay and lesbian community.
And here’s Palin admitting very recently that she has no idea what the vice president actually does.